Spec readers offer to help house refugees after reading Saturday’s feature on Hamilton as a sanctuary city
Local residents offer accommodation after reading Spectator article about Micah House
Hamilton is once again ready to welcome refugees with open arms, just as it did with the Vietnamese boat people in the ’70s, the Kosovar refugees in the late ’90s, and many others fleeing torture and death in the past few decades.
And while those in the past were often sponsored refugees, the current refugee claimants coming across the Canadian border while fleeing the U.S. — either legally at border crossings and improperly at unguarded crossings — are also touching hearts here.
Several city residents contacted Micah House, Hamilton’s littleknown emergency shelter for refugees, within hours of reading a Spectator story Saturday about it.
In the article, Micah’s director, Rev. Scott Jones, spoke of looking for people able to house any overflow of refugees who make it to Hamilton for up to two weeks at a time should the flow of claimants from the U.S. increase, which it’s expected to.
“It’s really great to be able to share what we have,” said Karen Trollope-Kumar, who offered empty rooms in her Westdale home.
Trollope-Kumar and her husband are medical doctors. They lived in India for 11 years practising medicine there before returning. That likely gave them a global perspective on life, she says.
“I really support the idea of providing refugees with a start in Canada,” she says.
Resident Kim Edwards said she, too, would like to help out. She says she’d been made keenly aware of the issues facing refugees when her daughter’s New Zealand fiancé, whose professor parents fled Iraq years ago to New Zealand, told her he’d prefer Canada as his country.
Kathleen Costello felt the article and the story of Hamilton being a sanctuary city highlight the need for safe places for refugee claimants, and would like to offer a basement apartment in her home.
Even Port Dover resident Heather Bell, 87, wants to offer rooms in her home.
“You touched our hearts,” says Bell of the Spectator articles and of the images on TV news of refugees coming across with suitcases and children in their arms.
“There are people who will rise to this challenge in Hamilton,” she predicted. Bell said she found the article on Micah House astounding. “Otherwise, we’d never have heard of it.”
Bell, who came to Canada as an immigrant in 1975, said it is frightening what refugees have to go through.
Rev. Scott Jones, Micah House’s executive-director is grateful for such positive feedback and offers of help and said he will be following up on the offers.
“It helps us tremendously because it helps us serve more refugees, ultimately. The sooner we can put people up in those places, the more we can help at Micah House.”
Micah House, a four-bedroom house in central Hamilton, houses about 60 refugees each year, although this past year it was 90. The average stay is two months.
Jones said he’s not entirely surprised by the community offers of help.
“This is a very supportive community,” he says, adding it feels “really good’ to hear from people Micah House has had no prior contact with, offering room in their homes.
“I find that encouraging for the refugees — that the community gets it. That this is real and this (offering shelter) is something we can do in Hamilton — and that people are willing to do it.”
Rev. Scott Jones of Micah House